Past Criminal Record? Criminal Rehabilitation Information & Eligibility

Criminal Rehabilitation is official rehabilitation for people who are criminally inadmissible to enter Canada because of one or multiple past criminal convictions. A given individual may be denied entry to Canada due to their criminal record. The offender may submit an application overcome their criminal inadmissibility by applying for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or for Criminal Rehabilitation (CR): the permanent solution to clearing your criminal record. Canadian Criminal Rehabilitation is the only application process in the country that will completely allow an offender to overcome their inadmissibility to Canada. Canadian Immigration lawyers will always advise their clients to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation, or for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) if they are not yet eligible for permanent rehabilitation.

The Criminal Rehabilitation Application Process

Applying for Criminal Rehabilitation is a process in which an individual who has been deemed inadmissible to Canada for a prior conviction, requests the Canadian Consulate to permanently abolish their inadmissibility to Canada: in other words, it removes the grounds of the offender’s criminal inadmissibility and practically erases their criminal record for the purposes of crossing the Canadian border. If the Canadian Government approves this application, the individual’s past criminal record will no longer hinder their ability to gain entry to Canada, and they may proceed to enter the country on professional, humanitarian, leisure and tourism grounds, or even to become a permanent resident/foreign national.

In determining whether they are eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation, the offender must ensure that their criminal conviction(s) was committed outside of Canada, and that a minimum of five years have elapsed since the completion of their sentence(s). It is imperative to note that these five years must have passed since all sentences have been fully completed, including fines, jail/prison and probation. For example, an individual with an unpaid fine from a few years ago will remain inadmissible to Canada. Determining eligibility for this immigration application can be confusing, and applicants can have trouble differentiating between their time of arrest and their official conviction date. Another confusing aspect to this application is determining if the conviction for the prior crime is equivalent to an indictable offense in Canada. Should any confusion occur, contact an immigration lawyer specializing in individuals who are inadmissible for prior convictions for assistance.

Determining Criminal Equivalence under the Canadian Criminal Code

The first and most important step in submitting an application for permission to enter Canada via Criminal Rehabilitation is determining the equivalence of a given offense under the Canadian Criminal Code. The offense can either fall under Serious Criminality or Non-Serious Criminality under Canadian Law. In order to determine the Canadian equivalent of the foreign statute, familiarity with the federal Criminal Code in relation to the laws of the country where the conviction occurred is essential. The equivalence of a crime under the Canadian Criminal Code is determined independently of the severity of the offense on your criminal record in the country where it occurred. Therefore, while some offenses are taken lightly in some countries and others are taken seriously, the only relevant information is a given offense’s status in Canada.

Hybrid offenses are the most common offenses in Canada, and can be treated as a summary conviction offense (prosecuted by summary conviction, meaning lighter penalties) or as an indictable offense (punishable by indictment, meaning harsher penalties). However, Canadian immigration legislation only refers to inadmissibility arising out of indictable offences.  For the purposes of interpreting the Act, it has been established that all hybrid offences, since a choice is available to the prosecutor, are considered indictable offences.  There are many common hybrid offences in the Canadian criminal code, including for example DUI, theft, assault, misconduct, fraud, or possession of narcotics.

Furthermore, the committed act outside of Canada must constitute an offense under a Federal statute. Therefore, provincial statutes such as parking tickets, would not be an issue. Evidently, it is essential to ensure that a given person has actually been convicted of an act. For example, if an offender has a charge on their record that has been dismissed or found not-guilty, they will not be rendered inadmissible, and thus applying for Criminal Rehabilitation will not be necessary. Nevertheless, it is always safe to double-check with an immigration lawyer and potentially receive a Legal Opinion letter.

Please note that Criminal Rehabilitation is indeed a solution for offenses that occurred outside of Canada. If an individual has been convicted in Canada, they may also need to apply for a Canadian record suspension, which is not an immigration application but more like a domestic expungement.

What does it mean to be Deemed Rehabilitated?

An individual with a non-serious crime, in which the sentence was completed over ten years ago, is already deemed “rehabilitated” by the passage of time. Therefore, they do not need to apply for Criminal Rehabilitation. However, individuals in this situation often request a letter from a legal expert in order to ensure a smooth entry to Canada. An offender with serious criminality on their record will need to prepare a Criminal Rehabilitation application, regardless of the elapsed time since the completion of their sentence(s).

One the equivalence of the applicant’s conviction(s) has been determined, they must demonstrate proof that there is no chance of them engaging in any further criminal behaviour. The individual must demonstrate positive changes they have made to their lifestyle such as community service and therapy. Criminal Rehabilitation applications are most likely to be granted if the Canadian official reviewing the case is convinced of the applicant’s healthy and productive lifestyle.

Obtaining Temporary Permission to Travel to Canada – Temporary Resident Permits

Temporary Resident Permits (TRPs) are an alternative way of overcoming criminal inadmissibility, though only temporarily. In order to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP), the individual must provide appropriate professional or humanitarian reasons for travel: i.e, business conferences with Canadian clients/colleagues or important family events. Temporary Resident Permits are valid for a maximum of three years, and have a determined length by a Canadian immigration officer. When a person is not yet eligible for Criminal Rehabilitation, the recommendation is to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) until eligibility is reached.

While people are sometimes advised that their criminal inadmissibility will be solved by having their offences expunged, expungements are not available for every offense, and processes vary depending on the state, meaning that this option is not available for everyone. While many also seek pardons to overcome their inadmissibility, these are only recognized in Canada if the charge or conviction is removed from the individual’s National Crime Information Center record and is equivalent to a Record Suspension under Canadian law. Furthermore, each state has their own pardon procedures, meaning that pardons from certain states (i.e. California) will not remove any of the listed criteria from their NCIC record.

Unlike expungements and pardons, Criminal Rehabilitation is available for everyone, no matter the offense(s), and is permanent and issued by Canada. If five years have not elapsed since your sentences have been completed and you need to enter Canada as soon as possible, you can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit as mentioned above, granting you entrance to Canada for a definite period of time.